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Matthew Stafford's sensational play has Rams on doorstep of playoff return 

The Los Angeles Rams continued to roll since their Week 10 bye, stiff-arming the New Orleans Saints, 30-22, Thursday night to move to 5-1 in their last six tilts, with their only loss coming in overtime in Baltimore.

The victory pushed the Rams to 8-7 and into the No. 6 seed in the NFC. With games on tap versus the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers (who could have the No. 1 seed locked up by then), Sean McVay's club is closing in on a return to the postseason, sitting with a 70% probability of making the playoffs, per Next Gen Stats' models.

"We earned the opportunity to be at this point, in my opinion," Matthew Stafford said following Thursday's win, via the Associated Press. "We've had stakes since the bye, so I'm just proud of the way these guys have put their head down, gone to work and shown up."

Stafford is a huge reason the Rams are on the doorstep of a postseason return.

After an injury-riddled 2022, the Super Bowl-winning quarterback has returned with fire. Weekly, Stafford makes jaw-dropping throws look routine, like Thursday's side-arm sling to Demarcus Robinson for a pivotal early third down. He's stood in versus pressure to make pinpoint, accurate dots to Puka Nacua and Cooper Kupp in stride.

"Just the throws he makes, we're just on the sideline like, 'How did he do it?'" Rams safety John Johnson said. "With a flick of the wrist, he makes it look effortless. You give him time back there, he'll dot up any team in the league."

The weaponry upgrade and the running game finding life with Kyren Williams have proven big for Stafford, but the offensive line has probably been the most notable improvement from last year. The addition of sensational rookie Steve Avila and veteran Kevin Dotson has stabilized the guard spots and helped give Stafford a great pocket to pick apart defenses.

When Stafford has time to get through his reads, he can pick apart any defense, and the Ram's upside is sky-high.

 "I think he's playing as good as he's played. I wouldn't want anyone else in the world leading our team than him," McVay said, per the L.A. Daily News.

In what was assumed to be a rebuilding year after shedding veterans and going incredibly young on defense, McVay, Stafford and defensive coordinator Raheem Morris have L.A. on the brink of the postseason. Right now, they're clearly the club battling for a wild-card spot no division winner wants to face.

"That's something that we've been trying to build here since the offseason. We have had such a young team this year, and I think we're finally at the point where we go into games expecting to win," tight end Tyler Higbee said. "We can close out games a little bit better, try not to make them as close when we got these teams on the ropes. Throw an uppercut and put them away, but again, it's part of learning and we'll learn from it and be better for it moving forward."

Close out two more games, and the Rams will be dancing in January.

"We win," Johnson said, "we in."

When Stafford is dealing like he's been, any postseason ticket could turn into gold.

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